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Letter to the Editor: Slovakia is not that bad

Dear Sir,

When I read the United States 1997 Human Rights report on the Slovak Republic (excerpts published in The Slovak Spectator, Vol. 4, No. 4, February 26-March 11), there was only one positive sentence, "Slovakia made continued progress in the difficult transition..." Thanks for the good words. But the rest carried a tone saying, "I want you to do this and that and this and that" and so on, which is a general reason why the US is not as popular in the world as it could be.

The report stated things that are common to every country in the world, including the USA. But when writing about Slovakia these normal occurences were presented as a sin, and the report makes us Slovaks the "bad guys." I must say, a majority of Slovaks are tired of this "bad guy-good guys" game, which has been played continually in some western circles, and especially in the USA.

There is no proof presented in the report, only allegations like "some critics allege, or "some critics say," or "increasing allegations." Slovakia is not a "banana republic," it is a sovereign, independent state and should be acknowledged as one. It is very unfair to say for example, "police have committed some human rights abuses." For heavens sake, in which country in the world have the police not? Show me one country, please.

If I read what is quoted in this report, that "an atmosphere of intimidation led some journalists to practice self-censorship," and that "somebody tries to politically intimidate journalists," I would believe that free press does not exist in Slovakia. Never mind the facts. TV Markiza, VTV, and 80 percent of all press is anti-government and funded mostly from abroad. There are many examples of skinheads beating up Gypsies, but no citations of other horrible facts. For example, the Gypsies who killed a 20 year old white girl by stabbing knives in her more than 40 times. Or the four Gypsies who killed a young soldier in the Slovak Army. I guess it's not worth mentioning in a human rights report, since then you cannot make Slovaks look like the bad guys.

The United States is somehow trying to pick out things that would show how undemocratic and abusive of human rights the Slovak Republic is, in order to boost arguments on why Slovakia is not welcomed in the "democratic" world. Slovakia is doing well in the difficult transition to democracy and not any worse than the "good guys" like the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Does anyone think that in Poland the police do not beat people or Gypsies? The same for Hungary, and for Prague. One could say this is not a report but a propaganda pamphlet on human rights, one whose authors are so heavily biased against Slovakia that what they write has very little in common with reality and the truth.

No wonder then that US ambassador Ralph Johnson says bad things about Slovakia and her government when his opinion is formed by such "reports." The Ambassador should pay more attention to what his country is saying and writing against Slovakia.

Michail Žiak; Slovak Vending Machine Operator in Germany

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